Harapan Youth Touts Health Service Commission, Suicide Decriminalisation

PH Youth proposes a Health Service Commission to manage the human resources of health care professionals to resolve contract doctor issues; reforming health care service delivery; decriminalising attempted suicide; and increasing mental health insurance.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 – Pakatan Harapan (PH) Youth has unveiled a slew of proposed health care policies in its election manifesto, including reforms for contract doctors, health service delivery, and mental health.

A key proposal is the formation of a Health Service Commission to manage human resources, job positions, training, and career pathways for health care professionals, amid long standing problems of insufficient permanent posts for government doctors.

Nurthaqaffah Nordin, who is PH Youth deputy chief and Amanah Youth women’s chief, noted that contract medical officers previously held a strike in July last year to protest against the government’s contract scheme for junior doctors.

“Too many contract doctors do not have placement, so Angkatan Muda Harapan proposes a Health Service Commission to manage human resources for health care workers,” Nurthaqaffah said at the launch of PH Youth’s manifesto for the 15th general election in Petaling Jaya today.

Previously, former Health deputy director-general (medical) Dr Azman Abu Bakar and Universiti Malaya infectious disease physician Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman called for a health service commission to manage the human resources of health care professionals from the Ministry of Health (MOH), university hospitals from the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), as well as military hospitals from the Defence Ministry (Mindef) – separately from other civil servants under the Public Service Department (JPA).

PH Youth also proposed reforming health care service delivery, including reducing waiting times, modernising health care facilities, and creating flexible operating hours at public health clinics in areas with large populations.

Long waiting times at government clinics and hospitals are often attributed to insufficient staff and patient overloads, which are due to insufficient funding for public health care, leading advocates to call for health financing reform.

PH Youth chief Dr Kelvin Yii, who is defending his Bandar Kuching parliamentary seat in GE15, told CodeBlue that the Health Service Commission will review and reform health care service delivery.

“That’s where we do the tough topics on financing and reforms.”

PH Youth’s “Tawaran Anak Muda Harapan” election manifesto also proposed expediting amendments to Section 309 of the Penal Code to decriminalise attempted suicide, a reform that stalled in the past Ismail Sabri Yaakob administration.

“Those facing emotional and mental disturbance need community support, not punishment,” Nurthaqaffah said.

According to police statistics, 1,708 deaths by suicide were recorded in Malaysia from 2019 until May 2021, with more than half aged between 15 and 18 years. A whopping 83.5 per cent of the 1,708 victims were female.

PH Youth promised to expand mental health care by increasing insurance coverage for mental health services.

The coalition’s youth wing further pledged to expand the mySalam health protection scheme to the middle 40 per cent (M40) of income earners, beyond the bottom 40 per cent (B40).

mySalam was set up by the then-PH government in 2019. The scheme provides low-income beneficiaries an RM8,000 lump sum for a critical illness diagnosis and a maximum RM700 per annum for up to 14 days’ hospitalisation for any condition.

Singapore-based insurance company Great Eastern is meant to contribute RM2 billion to the mySalam fund for five years, or RM400 million per year from 2019.

Then-Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz told Parliament in November 2020 that mySalam paid 75,000 beneficiaries RM75 million as of October 31, 2020, just 10 per cent of funds received by the government health protection scheme.

PH Youth’s election manifesto also proposed expanding the Peka B40 health screening programme to the M40 from the B40.

Then-Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said last April that only 10 per cent of 5.9 million eligible Malaysians, or 582,746 people, got screened under Peka B40 as of March 31 this year. Based on Peka B40’s 2021 report, the number of beneficiaries undergoing their first health screening plunged from a peak of 49,422 in December 2019 to 9,864 in November 2021.

Ismail Sabri’s government, in its proposed Budget 2023 that was tabled last October 7 before Parliament was dissolved three days later, had cut the budget for Peka B40 by RM5 million.

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